Johanna Mansfield Sullivan, known as Anne or Annie all her life, was born on April 14th, 1866 in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. Annie’s “family” lived there until she was ten. Her mother and father, Thomas and Alice Sullivan, were Irish immigrants, poor and ill. Annie was ill herself. She had trachoma that was not treated, and it lead to blindness when she was seven. Annie’s mother had tuberculosis and could not get around well after falling seriously, and passed away when she was eight. Leaving Annie to care for her brother, Jimmie, and their little run down home. Their father taking care of them was very slim since he was not working, unskilled, abusive, and an alcoholic. He left the kids two years after their mother’s death.
Even though Anne was temperamental, she was a good match for Helen Keller. She had a high tolerance to being upset about such things through her life and could deal with Helen’s outbreaks. Annie had gone through many outbreaks of her own in life. After her father abandoned them, Anne and her younger brother were sent to a house in Tewksbury, Massachusetts because Annie was too blind to accomplish much, and Jimmie had a hurt leg. The house and town was very poor, run down, and overcrowded. It really was not a house though, more of an asylum to keep kids who weren’t wanted. While there, Jimmie died due to being born with a tubercular hip. She would have had other 4 other siblings, but 2 died in infancy. Anne spent four years at Tewksbury mourning her brother and the two failed operations she ...
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...e ends meet, Annie attempted at acting in a movie, Deliverance, but it failed in box offices. They continued telling their story to others.
In the late 1920’s Anne lost most of her seeing, and had pain in her right eye. It was removed later for her health. She took trips to Scotland in the summer hoping to restore her health. Annie died when she was 70, on October 20th, 1936 at her house in New York.
Annie Sullivan’s ashes were put at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. Many other important figures ashes lay there, too. At her funeral, Bishop John E. Freeman said, “Among the great teachers of all time she occupies a commanding and conspicuous place. . . . The touch of her hand did more than illuminate the pathway of a clouded mind; it literally emancipated a soul.” Annie did so much more than teach Helen how to read and write. She taught her how to live.
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